Reading is an important part of any TPRS class. I didn’t completely understand that when I first started. In my first year or two, I would do one reading per unit. Since then, I have moved to reading something every week. I make up my own readings and we complete different activities with them. It’s never been the students’ favorite activity, but it’s always been effective. Recently, I’ve been investigating how others do reading and how to get more out of it. Slowing down in general has been one of my recent goals. I spent some time on Ben Slavic’s website, specifically on his page about weekly schedule. The good news was that my reading procedures were not much different than his. The challenge I found was that Ben gets two days out of a reading. He gets way more out of it than I do. I typically spend 30 minutes or so and then move to something else. I decided to try Ben’s approach to see if I could get more from one reading. My goal was not to simply fill more class time but to increase focus on one reading and recent vocabulary.
Today was day 1 of my attempt to spend two days on one reading in Spanish 2 and 3 (two different readings but the same procedures) Here’s what I did:
1. I wrote on the board “Who?”, “Where?” and “Problem” in Spanish and then explained and wrote a response to each as a way to give students a preview of what would be in the story.
2. I distributed a printout of the story and read it aloud to the students. We almost always do this step.
3. The students translated to English silently to themselves and marked any parts they did not understand. Today was the first day we’ve done this. They did well.
4. I answered their questions about things they did not understand. There were many good questions, but I fear that there were some questions unasked because students were afraid to speak up.
5. We translated as a class. Students volunteered to translate the dialogue parts. For most classes, I read the narration and paused for students to fill in words. I used my “Help me with the words I don’t know.” joke. I read the narration parts to avoid dragging this step on. In a few classes, there were very strong students who volunteered to read the narrator parts, and I allowed it.
6. I asked comprehension questions in Spanish. This was the step we stopped at in nearly all the classes. I will pick up here tomorrow. The students were able to answer the questions with ease. I was hoping to add some personal PQA questions during this step, but we were doing it with only a couple minutes left in each class.
The next steps include quickly discussing some grammar points, reading aloud with partners for pronunciation practice, changing details of the story and a quick translation quiz of one selected paragraph. Tomorrow may not be as strong for input, but I hope it is effective.
Overall, I am very pleased with the results today and the potential for tomorrow. I am concerned about holding interest for two days every time we do a reading. The engagement level today was pretty strong. We’ll see how it goes in the future. The key will be interesting, personalized and engaging texts.
Here are the texts we used:
Here is what my copies look like with markings for oral questions, grammar points . . . etc.